Editor’s Note: It’s been a little quieter around here than usual, sorry about that! Let’s get back to it. Up first in 2023…
Thanks to our readers for another great year with us. As we’ve done before, we wanted to dedicate a post to 2022’s most-viewed pieces. Scroll through to make sure you haven’t missed something big. (And check out our Top 5 of previous years: 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, and 2021.)
Note: As usual, our actual Top 5 by the numbers included some from previous years (including a pair of pieces about vinyl and digital music and a 2021 essay about digital blackface). Below are the most popular five posts that first appeared in 2022.
Hagia Sophia, one of the world’s greatest architectural and cultural sites, has experienced radical changes throughout its lifetime. It had been an Eastern Orthodox church, a Latin Catholic cathedral, then back to Orthodox, then a mosque, then a museum, and then – much more recently, in 2020 – became a mosque again. Six scholars – art and architectural historians and philosophers – shared their perspectives on these changes and the surrounding controversies.
What is it for a movie to be so bad it’s good? Aesthetics for Birds contributor Matt Strohl has a view about this, and we enlisted seven other philosophers to join in and discuss. What emerges is a set of reflections spanning gender, irony and playfulness, country music and Tokyo Drift, and what it means to have an aesthetic point of view at all. And tons of great examples of things to go check out.
Number three on our list questions the very nature of perception and belief. A lovely passage by Korean philosopher Park Jiwon, presented in the original and in translation with a commentary by philosopher Hannah Kim, points out that crows aren’t really black. We might say that they’re black, but when we really look at them, we see something more complex: brilliant shades of blues, greens, purples, and yellows. Park uses this as a metaphor for seeing and understanding all things. We should remain open-minded in the face of the real variety we see, rather than oversimplifying in our thought and language.
#2: AI Art is Art
The last few months in artificial intelligence have been pretty mind-blowing. Our second-most viewed post of 2022 tackles this issue, defending programs like DALL-E, Midjourney, and the rest. Philosopher Boomer Trujillo, Jr. argues that AI art is indeed art. He compares this style of art to photography, as well as to readymades and other forms of conceptual and abstract art. So go forth, empowered, and make some art using the tools afforded by sophisticated modern technology!
Our top post this year was about the majestic (and mundane) Mississippi River. It’s written by Ted Gracyk, a philosopher and resident of Minnesota, where the Mississippi begins. He reflects on the special, complex aesthetic experience of seeing the headwaters of the Mississippi, even if it’s true that it’s visually indistinguishable from any other Minnesotan headwaters. As he says, “If you’ve seen one Minnesota headwaters, you’ve pretty much seen them all!” This raises a number of fascinating issues about the aesthetic experience of nature and the role of background knowledge, cognition, and imagination.
This is a taste of what we gave you in 2022, but there’s much more to explore in our archives. And thanks again to you, our readers. We wouldn’t be here without you, and we are excited for a new year.